John Oliver on the Brutal Schizophrenia of Our System Regarding Motherhood

John Oliver on the Brutal Schizophrenia of Our System Regarding Motherhood May 12, 2015

Families are precious, and we will punish you if you believe what we are saying right now. Money first. Mothers and children last.

Especially impressive is the demonstration, yet again, that movement conservative economic dogmas, like Marxism, don’t work in reality, but are flawless in theory.

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  • Marthe Lépine

    Would I be exaggerating by suggesting that the matter of maternity leave could have pro-life ramifications? Could it be that some women would be so poor that they just cannot afford to lose 12 weeks of pay and choose abortion instead? Just asking…

    • Alma Peregrina

      You would be wrong. Pro-life is mutually exclusive to social justice. If a mother is a worker and doesn’t have money to own a company, it must be because she is lazy.

      So why would you give her 12 weeks pay for her to do even more nothingness? Don’t you feel pity for their bosses? How will they manage without their bonuses, do you want them to starve?

      How will rich folk manage to make money so that the invisible hand will magically transfer money to mothers, so that they can afford a 12 weeks leave?

      See the logic here? If you give mothers a 12 weeks pay, they will never enjoy those 12 weeks! ‘Cause logic!

      No, what the mother should do is leave her comfort zone and become an entrepeneur. It doesn’t matter if she is in pain or weak or can’t move… If she were REALLY productive, she could do anything! It’s the american dream, everybody! Don’t be a taker, don’t whine “bwaaah, i’m pregnant, i have a newborn child, i can’t work”!

      Bah!

      Just do something about it!

      Maternity is an opportunity. A business opportunity. When a new mother becomes a CEO of her own company, THEN she will deserve our pity and THEN I’ll be in favor of her having a maternity leave. Hell, if she becomes a CEO, she should even enjoy the freedom to do whatever she wants with her employees, the country, everything!

      That’s what being pro-life is all about!

      Sarcasm off.

      • Newp Ort

        Mothers could get involved in the energy industry, but Obama has hamstrung fracking and pipelines because he’s trying to destroy America and that opportunity is all but closed to mothers.

        Now liberals want to “support” mothers with a payoff and this dependence on the government will make them have abortions and become communist Muslims. And vote democrat.

        And Fabianism.

        • Alma Peregrina

          As long as you’re doing this comment to criticize right-wingers and not to make Dems / Obama look good, then we’re good.

          I can rant about left-wingers myself, so don’t get me started. I’m kinda like Lewis Black when it comes to ranting.

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          As a side note, at least part of the energy industry not only offers maternity leave, but paternity leave now. My husband will get a month of paid paternity leave this fall when the baby comes. It likely depends on the particular agreements between the company and the union, but it was a good step.

        • Joseph

          Hmm… I identify myself as a Catholic before all else, but if I were to place myself on the modern political spectrum it would be somewhere closer to the *conservative* side. As a person who believes that maternity benefits should be enshrined in law and protected by the government, I’m a bit confused that anyone would think that only *liberals* would be for it. Unless you’re merely jesting and I’m taking your joke too seriously.

          • KarenJo12

            Because right now liberals are the only people who support maternity leave. Conservatives believe women shouldn’t have decent paying jobs and mothers shouldn’t have any jobs at all, except for backbreaking housework.

            • Joseph

              Say what? Hahahaha.

            • Alma Peregrina

              You have at least two people here who self-identify as conservatives and that do not advocate anything you said.

              What’s that word that liberals normally use to describe this? Oh, I know! “Prejudice”.

              • Vision_From_Afar

                Those people here, as wise as they may be, are not in national office. The conservatives in national (and dominating many state) offices are behaving exactly as Karen described.

                • Joseph

                  I can’t argue with that. But, then, Calvinist/Evangelical teaching gives the freedom to behave and think that way without unnecessarily burdening their consciences with the notion that they may have to answer to it at some point in their lives on earth and/or in their lives beyond it.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  “as wise as they may be”

                  I commend you for noting my wisdom. Let me tell you, you’re a very insightful fellow.
                  ******************************
                  On a (slightly more) serious note, 2 points:

                  1) “Conservatives in national office”? But are there any conservatives in national office???

                  I mean, sure, if you think “conservative” means fighting a XIX century modernist post-enlightenment ideology by *conserving* a XVIII century modernist post-enlightenment ideology like capitalism… you would be right.

                  True conservatives, however, deplore those modern things like capitalism. I, for myself, am very fond of those days when kings meddled in every aspect of economic life, regulating everything, long before Marx’s great-grandfather wore diapers. Oh, when one of the most repugnant sins you could commit was usury…when the burgeoisie was about family-sized companies and there were no corporations in sight… those were the days…
                  ————————–
                  2) Joseph said ” I’m a bit confused that anyone would think that only *liberals* would be for it.”

                  Then KarenJo said that “right now liberals are the only people who support maternity leave.”

                  Where was it ever said that we were talking about conservatives in office and not about conservatives as a whole?

                  • Vision_From_Afar

                    I’ll concede no one pointedly talked about those in office. I presumed, perhaps incorrectly, that those “conservatives” in office represented “conservatives” in the constituency (at least, on average).

      • Cas

        [more sarcasm] Agreed, economics and social justice issues related to economics have absolutely nothing to do with why some women have abortions. The choice to have an abortion is driven by lust and their desire to have consequence-free sex, never something that is chosen as a bad solution to a desperate situation. [/more sarcasm]

        Alma P., your satirical description would normally make me laugh, but I’m afraid it hits too close to home with its accuracy.

        An anecdote: I once read about an abortion clinic that has a chapel on-site where mothers can go to pray and ask forgiveness from the child they abort (spent a few minutes searching for a link, but unfortunately couldn’t find one). It was utterly incongruous to me when I first heard about it how such a thing could exist, but the fact is that it does, and apparently some of the women who have abortions there go to the chapel afterwards.

        So, I had to ask myself how could this be possible? What would drive a woman to commit such a terrible act and then immediately go pray and ask forgiveness for the child she just had murdered in the very place where the act was committed?

        After some reflection, I realized that the women in these situations choose abortion out of sheer desperation. It remains an evil act, a hideous choice, but an act (at least in some cases, if not most) that is made not out of the desire to commit evil, but because they feel they have no other choice.

        Until we can make sense out of the incongruousness of the chapel in the abortion clinic, I don’t think that we’ll make much headway towards stamping out one of the root causes of abortion.

        TL;DR: Economic injustice is the primary driving force behind the demand for abortion.

        • Alma Peregrina

          Let’s not mix things. Not every woman who has an abortion is lustful and not every woman who has an abortion is desperate.

          Human beings have a lot of diferent motivations and contexts, so I would be careful in labeling something the *driving force* for a choice like this.

          I do believe that many women do it out of desperation and that they will pray in said chapel.

          But I also know that many women want to abort because of lust for consequence-free sex. In fact, I would venture that the majority of pro-choice ideologues (women with no economic dificulties whatsoever but that get their heads in a pickle for the “right to choose”) have this motivation.

          Lust and consequence-free sex are prevalent in our society and are *a* driving force behind abortion. If it weren’t for those, abortion would never have been labeled a “right”.

          Just because we decry greed, let’s not undermine lust’s importance. And vice-versa. Both are capital sins for a reason.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            I think in some cases it’s also because, “A baby will ruin my plans for . . .” insert whatever here. This goes hand-in hand with the desire for consequence-free sex, since sex is seen as a right for every adult, and to be so, there cannot be consequences.

    • ManyMoreSpices

      It’s an interesting hypothesis, but I have some trouble believing that the difference between aborting and giving birth (if expense is a concern) is three months of maternity leave. It’s not as if caring for the kid becomes free at Week 13.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Did you not consider the twelve unpaid weeks prior to the thirteenth week? It can easily take weeks, for instance, to recover from a cesarean.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          Did you not read where I said that this is “an interesting hypothesis,” meaning that I was open to persuasion on this issue if the evidence bore it out?

          It is within the realm of possibility that a woman could look at the expenses involved with caring for a child for the first three months and decide that it was too financially burdensome to bring the child to term. But if she’s aborting because of financial concerns, again, those don’t vanish after three months.

          Did you not consider that children continue to cost money three months after they’re born?

          • Angela T

            it’s highly plausible… After all, imagine you live pay check to pay check. You don’t really have any savings, and boom, you see in the near future a period of three months where you get nothing. For a person of limited means, those three months of pay are crucial in order to survive. Of course financial concerns don’t vanish after a few months, but my guess is if the mother simply cannot work because of the care needed for the child (or because complications in the pregnancy render her unable to work), then the loss of money puts a major pressure on her and her child.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        Just noodling here, but I would guess that when economics are part of the reason to abort, it may be a combination of concern about maternity care costs (especially for women or families who cannot pay the cost themselves but are above the cut-off for any assistance), worries that taking any time off could result in total job loss, concern about being able to afford childcare. I think just the guarantee that their job could not be lost would be helpful for some women, and it is easier to find daycare space for two or three-month olds than one-week-old newborns sometimes. Some daycares here won’t take children under two months old. Others won’t take children under a year.

  • Dave G.

    My wife and I often discuss this. She has said that the problems are probably much larger than most of us care to admit. As she explains it, she’s probably right.

  • Here in Philippines, a mother is given 6 weeks paid maternity leave. The situation with the father is a little different. If the pregnant mom is his legal wife – and they are living together – he is allowed 7 days off with pay. He can take parental leave for his wife’s first four deliveries.
    Oh yeah, and there’s no legalized abortion here either.

    • IRVCath

      When even the Philippines – a country with no legal abortion and no legal divorce – has more generous benefits than we do…

      • IRVCath

        Not that illegal divorce and illegal abortion are bad things…

  • thisismattwade

    So how do these other countries do it? Is it a payroll tax? Or is there an insurance arrangement? Here in the states, my wife got 6-weeks paid leave after our daughter was born. But this was split 60-40: a private company paid her 60% of her salary and the school agreed to pay 40%. We declined the 40% because she wasn’t returning to work. I don’t believe federal (or state) moneys were involved in any of it.

    (I’m fully in favor of paid leave for maternity, but I’m just wondering how it’s actually implemented elsewhere.)

    • ManyMoreSpices

      So how do these other countries do it?

      How do these other countries do what? Have fertility rates below replacement? Enjoy double-digit unemployment? Basically give up on their Catholic heritage?

      Looking to Europe for economically viable examples of how to boost fertility rates via maternity leave is like looking to Russia as an example of how to curb alcoholism.

      • “Looking to Europe for examples on how to boost fertility rates via
        maternity leave is like looking to Russia as an example of how to curb
        alcoholism.”

        Actually, it is a mistake to assume all of Europe is the same in this regard. As this article explains — http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29Birth-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 — some of the countries with the most aggressive social welfare programs, including paid maternity leave, have some of the highest birthrates in Europe.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          …and some don’t.

          So the “more maternity benefits = more children” formula just isn’t that simple.

          And of course saying that you have one of the highest birthrates in Europe is like counting yourself among the loudest whisperers.

          • Did you read the article? It is enlightening, because it shows that fertility rate is a multi-faceted problem with a multi-faceted solution, one of which is paid maternity leave and paternity leave. At the very least, paid leave helps send the message that family as important as work, and good for society.

            Moreover, paid leave is the right thing to do, even if it does not by itself result in a higher birthrate or more crowded pews. For that reason alone it should be done.

            • ManyMoreSpices

              Moreover, paid leave is the right thing to do, even if it does not by itself result in a higher birthrate or more crowded pews. For that reason alone it should be done.

              Mmm, yeah, but what if it’s actually destructive? What if it actually hurts families? If your social program isn’t having the results that you expect it to have, it’s time to recheck your numbers and ensure that you aren’t actually doing harm.

              The way America did welfare in the 60’s and 70’s destroyed poor families and poor communities. And fifty years ago people were telling us that it’s the right thing to do.

              At the very least, paid leave helps send the message that family as important as work, and good for society.

              Well, maybe. But there’s the message you want to send, and then there’s the message that you actually send. At the same time, it could send the message that fathers aren’t important, because the most important benefactor for new mothers is the state. The more than mothers are helped by the state, the less they need fathers.

              By the same token I could say that legal same-sex marriage is pro-family, because it sends the message that family formation is important. But other messages are being sent, as you know…

              As I’ve said, I’m open to persuasion on this issue. But your mind is made up. And given the very mixed record of the welfare state in America, and in Europe on this very issue, a little more open-mindedness is in order.

              • “At the same time, it could send the message that fathers aren’t
                important, because the most important benefactor for new mothers is the
                state. The more than mothers are helped by the state, the less they need
                fathers.”

                Well, couldn’t you make that same argument about family, friends, and churches helping a mother? That they need fathers less? And if the goal is paid family leave, for both fathers and mothers, doesn’t that then suggest that fathers are in fact just as important as mothers?

                My mind is made up because I’m a mother. With the birth of my last child, my husband got a whole two days off — two days to help me recover from a c-section, two days to care for our other children, two days to drive because I wasn’t allowed to drive for a week and the newborn was in the NICU for that time. And for those two days, he was still expected to check emails, take conference calls, review documents, and generally be as responsive as he would have been in the office.

                Do you have any evidence that paid leave is destructive to families? The article I pointed you to suggested it helps, or is at least neutral (depending on the country, culture, and implementation), and I know of no situation where paid leave correlates with, let alone causes, harm to families.

                • MuchoMasChile

                  There you go with the coincidence/causation and all that. I’m open to persuasion on this, and many, issues. All you want to do is examine the facts and try to find the most moral course of action. With your mind closed on the common good, and therefore not open to other values, discussion is just impossible!

                  • ManyMoreSpices

                    Eh. B-minus.

                • ManyMoreSpices

                  Well, couldn’t you make that same argument about family, friends, and churches helping a mother?

                  Absolutely. But if we’re going to diminish the importance of fathers, it’s better to replace them with the Church founded by Jesus Christ than with a check from a bureaucrat, don’t you think? Unless you’d like to tell me that there’s no difference between receiving support from extended family and the government.

                  The article I pointed you to suggested it helps, or is at least neutral

                  If a government program is “neutral,” it’s harmful because it’s wasteful. If something isn’t having the intended result, the only reason you’re not seeing its harm is because you’re only looking at one side of the ledger.

                  • 1) But do you have any actual evidence that paid leave for both parents “diminishes the importance of fathers”? Or is otherwise bad for society?

                    2) Is it “diminishing” fathers to provide support, or is it that the support becomes necessary because some fathers have left? Or died? Or are working their butts off, but the family still needs help?

                    3) Church v. state — It’s not an either/or situation, especially because even under the best circumstances the Church simply does not have the resources or ability to solve every single social ill. Do you believe that, for example, the Church *is* capable of providing for the lost wages of every parent who takes unpaid time off at the birth/adoption of a child?

              • Alma Peregrina

                “As I’ve said, I’m open to persuasion on this issue. But your mind is made up.”

                Hum… huh? You’re open to persuasion, so the other person must be open-minded? How does this work?

                • ManyMoreSpices

                  You’re open to persuasion, so the other person must be open-minded? How does this work?

                  It works, friend, when everyone in a conversation is open-minded.

                  • Alma Peregrina

                    I still don’t understand, but I do understand you called me friend, so I’ll be satisfied with that.
                    🙂

                    • ManyMoreSpices

                      What influences birth rates is a complicated question. I’m open to being persuaded that there’s a certain type of social welfare model that will boost birth rates without unleashing forces that are destructive to families. Let’s see where the evidence leads.

                      But I’ve read a lot of comments from people who have their minds made up: lavish maternity benefits are the way to go, and of course they’re good because they just are, or because they have a personal anecdote. I’m asking those people to examine the evidence, as well.

              • Joseph

                “At the same time, it could send the message that fathers aren’t
                important, because the most important benefactor for new mothers is the
                state. The more than mothers are helped by the state, the less they need
                fathers.”
                .
                Gee, I dunno. It may have something to do with the simple fact that the mother has to carry the baby for 9 months with all the difficulties and risks that it entails. Then she has to give birth, often times requiring *major surgery* in the form a a C-section (I happen to be a husband and father and watched my wife’s C-section the first time… yeah, they literally cut you open and gut you). The recovery time for that can be lengthy depending on how good the doctors are. And then there is the stress of not getting any sleep and learning how to breast feed (yes, it’s a learning process). Sure, I was up helping the whole time and sacrificed my comfy rest to do so, but I survived… and I can guarantee that whatever I suffered came no where near what my wife suffered.
                .
                Would I have enjoyed paternity leave? Well, for a man who is honest with himself and would rather not work at all for a living, absolutely. Do I think that not having paternity leave made me irrelevant? Absolutely not… what a dumb argument. That said, our boys were born in the States where there was no substantial maternity leave anyway so we opted to have my wife leave her job for her benefit and the benefit of our children. That’s what happens in a system with no discernible maternity benefits. The family is left with a choice: does the mother leave her career behind for the benefit of her children or get put into a nonsensical financial bind where she loses crucial bonding time with her children to pursue it? Reducing maternity benefits actually hurts women and has the opposite effect of true feminism by forcing them to leave the job market in many cases. Any woman who is for reducing maternity benefits is engaging in cutting off her nose to spite her face. Stupid logic.
                .
                My wife hasn’t worked in almost a decade because of this conundrum. She’d like to go back to work but knows, in IT, you’re pretty much worthless after a break like that. So, the *no maternity leave* effect can result in the destruction of women’s careers. I don’t know how a woman could possibly be for that.

                • ManyMoreSpices

                  Reducing maternity benefits actually hurts women and has the opposite effect of true feminism by forcing them to leave the job market in many cases.

                  Because if there’s one thing that Catholics should be doing, it’s using public policy to support “true feminism.”

                  Worrying primarily about whether a mother needs to sacrifice her career for her family is a feminist concern, not a Catholic one. Don’t do that. Don’t place ideology above the Church.

                  Your analysis should be “what is the teaching of the Church?” not “what is consistent with feminism?” Unless you’re arguing not from the truth of Catholicism, but from the ideology of feminism, in which case this discussion is pointless.

                  • Joseph

                    Umm… can you help point out where I said that a woman’s career path is Catholic teaching? Personally, I would rather either the mother or father be stay at home full-time dads or moms with only one breadwinner. But, surprise, that’s not Catholic teaching either.
                    .
                    However, I disagree that we should develop systems that totally remove the choice of both parents working. So, naturally, if both parents choose to work there should be equity (it would be hard to argue that Catholic teaching prefers inequity, dontcha think).
                    .
                    The fact is, in the modern world many families find it hard to have large families with only one income. In order to have larger families *both* parents find themselves in the position of having to work. In that case, there should always be equity.

                  • “True feminism” is in fact compatible with Catholic teaching.

                    “Worrying primarily about whether a mother needs to sacrifice her career
                    for her family is a feminist concern, not a Catholic one.”
                    Not necessarily. Not if the family genuinely needs her income or benefits, not if she is a single mother (however that happened), not if the family is better off as a whole when she works for whatever reason. The proper Catholic concern is what is best for the family, and what is best is going to change from family to family (and within the family, as it changes). Therefore Catholics should be concerned with how society affects that, and what the Church, individuals, secular organizations, *and* the state can do to make sure that families get what they need.

      • thisismattwade

        So you don’t know? My question “how do [they] do it?” was pretty easy to understand. You’re just looking for a fight.

      • tayloriffic

        In Canada we have 1 year paid parental leave for mom or dad to divide up as they want. Everyone who works pays into employment insurance(EI) through payroll deduction(it is earmarked and does not go into general revenues) and you can receive it not just through parental leave but also sickness, unemployment or caring for a sick/dying family member. You receive about 55% of your wages up to a maximum of about $500/wk. Companies quite often but are not required to cap up to 75% or 100%. http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/index.shtml

        • tayloriffic

          And noone can loose their job or position by taking leave.

  • ManyMoreSpices

    European mothers enjoy lavish maternity benefits, and yet the birthrates over there hover somewhere near a number that rhymes with “hero.” Meanwhile in the United States, if you have a good job and a husband, you probably have some form of maternity leave, and yet fertility rates are the highest among women who can least afford not to be working. Coincidence/causation and all that, but either way the reality is more complicated than what some marginally funny doofus** on a fake news show presents.

    If anything, the evidence suggests that the welfare state tends to undermine families and drive down birth rates, even if that welfare state includes benefits that appear on their face to be pro-family. Talk about a divergence between theory and reality!

    **I watched this Oliver character once. He was outraged – outraged! and insisted that you be too – that residents of American territories don’t get to vote for the president. The culprit he fingered? Not the Constitution, which only apportions presidential electors to the states and the District of Columbia. That’s the facile explanation, you dope. The real answer: wait for it… wait for it… racism. Because racism is the answer to everything. The same level of trenchant analysis is on display here.

    • Alma Peregrina

      Soooo, you compare absolute european birthrates with US fertility rates of “women who can least afford not to be working”

      Hum, in Europe “women who can least afford not to be working” also have the higher fertility rates, so I don’t know what that proves. On the other hand, the US also has an absolute birthrate that is below replacement level, so the success of your economic system is marginal and, in practice, doesn’t solve the problem either.

      On the other hand, countries with the highest birthrates are african ditactorial (dare I say socialist) countries or islamic countries. If increasing birthrates at the expense of ethics and justice is what you want, maybe we should try these instead?

      • ManyMoreSpices

        Soooo, you compare absolute european birthrates with US fertility rate of “women who can least afford not to be working”

        Noooo I didn’t. I have made three separate points:

        (1) Euro-style social welfare models don’t guarantee higher birth rates, and may in fact drive them down. It’s a complicated question, as I have said from the beginning, and I’m open to persuasion on this issue. If there’s any sophistry and oversimplification going on here is from the folks who have entered this discussion convinced that Euro-style social welfare is the only possible public policy choice that a Catholic can make.

        (2) Affordability of children often has little to do with whether mothers choose to give birth. Given that fertility rates within a society vary inversely with wealth, we should not necessarily expect that making children less expensive will cause mothers to have more children and abort less.

        (3) Maternity leave can’t help the poor that much. Three months of benefits are great, but if poverty is the reason that you’re not having children, you’re still going to be poor when your maternity leave is up. It’s mostly a payout to the middle- and upper-class.

        • Alma Peregrina

          I don’t have any problem with your points (2) and (3), even though I think that not having paid maternity leaves doesn’t help those points either. Birthrates are multifactorial, so there are lots of things that should be addressed, and you are right to point out these other problems. But these and paid maternity leaves are not mutually exclusive.

          As for point (1), let’s divide it in two:
          (1.1) Euro-style social welfare models don’t guarantee higher birthrates
          (1.2) Euro-style social welfare models may in fact drive birthrates down

          No problem in point (1.1) (it’s a fact), but I do think your point (1.2) doesn’t stand.

    • Joseph

      Great solution. Do away with maternity benefits and watch birthrates go up for working women!!! Fantastic logic.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        Would you be so kind as to point out for me where I offered that as a solution?

        • Joseph

          Well, if you can’t draw the obvious logical conclusion from your own statement… well… actually… that pretty much explains it. It was nothing more than a party-line screed (those are pretty much always illogical).

    • Joseph

      US Birth Rate (2012): 1.88

      Irish Birth Rate (2012): 1.99

      French Birth Rate (2012): 2.01

      UK Birth Rate (2012): 1.94

      .

      Which one is lowest again? And who has the most maternity benefits again? Oopsey! A bit of a problem there with your non factoids to make your non point caused by your capitalist loyalist Republican hyperventilating!!!

      • ManyMoreSpices

        “capitalist loyalist Republican hyperventilating!!!”

        …said the man who believed that three exclamation points were necessary.

        Anyway, I see your Ireland, France, and UK… and raise you Norway, Italy, Germany, Greece, Japan, and Denmark.

        Triumphalism looks better on you when you’re not cherry-picking.

        • Joseph

          I gave you three examples of what you would call *welfare states* (ones that graciously grant lengthy paid maternity leaves) having higher birth rates than the U.S., which grants negligible maternity benefits… when it even does. That alone totally destroys the irrational hyper-capitalist panting so-called point you made. All else is irrelevant, sweetheart. It only takes *one* to prove you wrong, but I raised you by three!

    • KarenJo12

      The countries with the highest birthrates also have the lowest numbers of women who can read and the worst rates of female school attendance, so if you just want more babies then prohibit girls from learning to read.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Sin makes you stupid.

      In this case, specifically, Mammon worship leads to both regarding ‘social sciences’ as science while simultaneously dismissing rigorous research as ‘coincidence /causation and all that’.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        I’m sorry, you’re accusing me of sinning?

        Kindly point me in the direction of the sins that I have commited, so that I may repent.

        Or don’t do that. I suggest not doing that. Judging the conditions of other people’s souls: not such a smart idea. I’d almost go so far as to call it, you know, stupid.

    • Judging by the placement of your comment, it’s possible that you might not have read my comment about parental leave in Philippines. Let me paste it here:
      “Here in Philippines, a mother is given 6 weeks paid maternity leave. The situation with the father is a little different. If the pregnant mom is his legal wife – and they are living together – he is allowed 7 days off with pay. He can take parental leave for his wife’s first four deliveries.”
      You’ll have to admit that Philippines is even less of a “welfare State” than the U.S.. The birthrate is pretty well above “replacement levels” as well.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        I’m sorry, what’s your point?

        • Alma Peregrina

          It’s your point. You say that “evidence suggests that the welfare state tends to undermine families and drive down birth rates” (quoted)

          Robert Simms brings the evidence on the contrary from the Philipines. Joseph brings the evidence on the contrary from the Ireland, France and UK.

          You acuse Joseph of cherry-picking, but you’re doing the exact same thing. Maybe you should take Beadgirl’s suggestion that birthrates are multifactorial, instead of blaming the ever-so-easy target of welfare?

          • ManyMoreSpices

            How is what Robert Simms says in any way a refutation of any point that I made? He says “Philippines is even less of a ‘welfare State’ than the U.S.. The birthrate is pretty well above ‘replacement levels’ as well.”

            • Alma Peregrina

              Maybe Robert Simms could explain it better… but I don’t think the Philippines is “less of a welfare State” than the US. If I’m wrong, I wholeheartedly will recant.

              I interpreted it as a typo. Another possible explanation is that the Philipiness, not being a welfare State, even so allow for paid maternity leaves. Isn’t it the point of this post?

              • My understanding of ManyMoreSpices comment was that it was the so called “welfare states” that provided generous maternity leaves. Alma states my point in her second comment…. Philippines, while not being a welfare state, provides maternity leave. After looking at other comments, I want to add that Philippines probably provides leave for both mom and dad because doing so is the Catholic thing to do.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  Thank you for the clarification Robert Simms.

                  By my honour, I wholeheartedly recant.

  • ivan_the_mad

    I should think it a duty of charity, if not one of justice, to support mothers and newborns during a delicate time, particularly if the mother has no recourse to a husband, family, or intermediate social institution.

    The execution of such a duty must likely fall upon the state for now, whether in the form of material relief or positive law. In the meantime, we must work towards a better realization of the social doctrine. Mondragon Corporation evinces that this can be done:

    “The Eroski Group’s worker-owners share out 75 million euros in profits … Eroski has established initiatives to reconcile family, working and personal life. In this regard, the possibilities for taking leave of absence have been extended and improved with jobs being kept for people or reductions in the number of hours they work. Among these improvements, the extension of maternity leave from 12 to 18 months stands out, with the new mother’s job being kept for her. Leave to look after young children was also extended, from when the child is three years old to six years old, with a job being kept in the same professional category. There is also a reduction in the number of hours worked for legal guardianship until the children are six years old.”

    • Marthe Lépine

      You are bringing an interesting point with Mondragon. I don’t know how it could be done, but it seems to me that one thing that would make a big difference would be an effort to spread the cooperative movement and gradually reduce the dependence on large corporations for the provision of jobs. In a co-op, where the owners are actually the workers themselves, the concept of the “bottom line” could be expanded to not only include the profits for the shareholders, but also the well-being of the actual owners of the business, e.g. the workers, and their families.

  • anna lisa

    How sad that mothers need to be separated from their babies. Thirteen weeks is nothing when it comes to parent/child bonding. Leaving her baby in the care of another person for most of his or her waking hours is tragic. I suspect that we will be seeing more and more children with psychological disorders involving trust and intimacy.

    I’ve been talking to my daughter about choosing a profession that is more compatible with motherhood since she was little and I started to see the handwriting on the wall. My generation is the first one to be less prosperous than the one before it, and it’s only getting worse for subsequent generations. Why is this so?

    I relied on my family for help when I gave birth. When I needed to, I pulled the smaller kids from their schools and enrolled them in the schools in my parents’ neighborhood, because we were all more comfortable staying with their grandparents. My husband drove to see us on the weekends. Even if he had paid paternity leave, he wouldn’t have been able to be away from his job for much more than a week or so. There was very little stress with this arrangement for all parties including my parents.

    It’s sad how much people need or must manage on their own because they aren’t able to get help from their families. The breakdown of the nuclear family is certainly linked to this.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I don’t know… I seem to have a problem with this, but I never had a family of my own, so I would not have any experience to share. But you are complaining about the breakdown of the nuclear family, after describing your situation when your children only saw their father on the weekends, and your husband was with you only on the weekends, because you “were all more comfortable staying” with your own parents, and I have difficulty understanding that. Would a “weekend nuclear family” really be a good arrangement? Maybe, just maybe, would such arrangements, apparently made because of financial constraints, have been a first little crack that eventually led to the breakdown of the nuclear family… You maybe are lucky that God brought you a really good, strong man to be your husband, but think about the temptations facing a man coming back from work to an empty place every week day, for months on end. Some other families would not have survived such arrangement.

      • Joseph

        I can’t begin to judge… but for me it was a no brainer. I was not going to take any job that required me to travel and, no matter what, I was going to be with my family, even if that meant packing up and moving with a two week notice several times for an opportunity. My family is the only thing that prevents me from devolving into an irresponsible pud, but it’s also the only thing that matters to me. Of course, I consider myself lucky that I have a wife who has always been willing to move at a moments notice and jobs that were lucrative enough to allow her to stay at home.

      • anna lisa

        Marthe, I’m sorry if I wasn’t clearer on the subject. It was a short arrangement–just to get me back on my feet. My mother and father rolled out the red carpet. All cooking and cleaning was done for me and I got some much needed rest. My mother would delight in buying the new baby things that I needed, and would buy my favorite pastries and Mexican take-out.. I hope I can be a mother like her some day. Even though she pampered me, I was eager to get back home, and hated every second of my husband’s 10 hour round trip commute.

  • anna lisa

    I’d like to add one more little thought on this subject. Satan may be a gigantic loser, but he’s brilliant.

    Nobody starves in this country anymore (thanks be to God!) But let’s just honestly ask ourselves what it must do to children and parents when a cold and efficient system supplies for the needs of all? —

    Nobody needs to find the warmth in their heart to say “thank you”…nobody needs to reciprocate.

    What Ivan-the-mad posted makes so much sense. When humans are “in it” together, they innovate with symbiotic methods. When big government becomes the big Daddy of all…–Nobody has to say,

    *”please” or “thank you”.* It’s all anonymous.

    I think that’s *exactly* what the devil is striving for.

    • Vision_From_Afar

      “Nobody starves in this country anymore”

      What rock are you living under? I help once a month to pack food for school children who, on weekends, have nothing else to eat and all we can pack is a single meal’s worth. We have to scratch out/mark the barcode so parents or others don’t try to exchange the soup cans for money at WalMart. The majority of kids in elementary school today are on free or reduced price lunch so they can eat.
      People starve in this country every damn day, and too many of them are kids.

      • anna lisa

        Abuse of the system has always existed. That a child would go hungry because their parent used their food stamps for something
        illicit pains me but doesn’t surprise me. How widespread is this practice? I don’t know. Some statistics would be helpful.

        The high school that my son attends keeps the cafeteria open all summer long, and spreads the message via automated phone calls all summer as well. Other than the extreme cases that are reported in the news, I haven’t heard that there is starvation in this country, but would appreciate it if you would add some links so that I can understand the scope of what you are speaking about. I’ve never seen what looks like a starving student, but am so very sorry that some parents are abusers.

        My guess is that hunger is nothing compared to what it was less than 100 years ago. It is nothing like what can be found in a third world country or population. Now it is metabolic disease that is killing the poor in the U.S..

        When the majority of American children are on food aid, what we really need to ask ourselves is:

        *Why is our system so broken*?

        The welfare system as we know it was unveiled with the promise that it would *eradicate* poverty, but the statistics say the opposite. Thank God there is a system for feeding the poor. Can we improve the way government gives the poor a hand up?

        Anyhow, thank you for scratching bar codes off of cans, so that wanton parents can’t further abuse the ones in their care. How sad and depraved.

        “Vision from afar” I want to let you in on something I’ve always felt is one of those little keys to understanding life: When people use hateful language and derision while they are defending what they are passionate about, I always feel like they have imparted a very important piece of information about themselves. It helps me to assess how credible they are. It helps me to understand what the source of their passion is, and what it is in the service of. Have a good day.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          I can’t even parse what your counter argument is. Are you saying, “Yes, people are hungry, and that sucks, but they’re not dying, so at least that’s something.”?
          My threshold for “starving” is apparently much lower than yours. If someone in this country has to go days without food, I’d call that starving.
          I’m also sorry your threshold for “hateful language” is so low. Here’s a tip: Condescending tripe only makes you look foolish.

          • anna lisa

            Thank you for the link. I live in one of those ten cities, and I help the homeless.
            Please don’t put condescending words in my mouth. I never said that. Yes, our country is a mess. Your sneering attitude doesn’t make it better.

          • UAWildcatx2

            I’m still trying to figure out just what that “hateful language” was…

  • Pete the Greek

    Actually, Communism doesn’t even work in theory.